What Are the Main Causes of TMJ?

jaw pain

Have you ever woken up with jaw pain or found yourself clenching your teeth during a stressful meeting? One of the growing medical conditions that dentists see is TMJ or TMJ syndrome. 

TMJ is the abbreviation and condition referring to the Temporomandibular Joint. This is the joint that allows us to open and close our mouths, talk or chew. As with any muscle or joint, the TMJ can be damaged or stressed and cause pain. Other symptoms include clicking or popping in the jaw or at extreme levels a locked jaw.

What Are the Main Causes of TMJ?

There are many possible causes of TMJ. While it is a joint like normal, it is possibly the most used joint in the human body. There are many daily occurrences and medical conditions that can cause TMJ symptoms or show up at the same time.

Jaw Damage

The most obvious reason for TMJ is if your jaw is damaged in an accident or trauma. This can include broken bones, torn muscles or soft tissue damage. In these cases, people have had their jaws wired shut to promote healing or to set broken bones.


Like many other joints the jaw can be a target for osteoarthritis. This means that the cartilage in the joint is either degraded or loses its elasticity causing pain during movement and friction. Arthritis is common in older people as well as those who have suffered injury or trauma to the soft tissue.

Stress and Teeth Grinding

One of the well known but still important causes of TMJ is stress. Clenching your teeth or grinding them because of stress is a dangerous and incredibly unhealthy habit. It can permanently damage your teeth, gums and jaw. For patients who have serious teeth grinding issues, dentists recommend mouth guards and other therapies to reduce stress and occurrences of grinding teeth.

Tooth Decay and Infections

If you have let decay or infections go on too long without preventative dental treatment, the damage can spread to the temporomandibular joint. This decay and infection can cause swelling and both temporary and permanent damage to the joint. Additionally, swelling after an allergic reaction can cause the jaw to stop working properly.

Posture and Spinal Health

For people who suffer from multiple medical conditions, sometimes secondary damage can occur. For example, people with back problems may sleep on their side or stomach in a way that puts pressure on your jaw when you’re asleep. This kind of secondary stress and damage can cause your jaw to lock up or be inflamed over time.

As we’ve seen, a lot can happen in your oral and overall health that can lead to issues with your jaw. It is absolutely important to talk to your dentist quickly if you’re having any of these problems or issues with chewing and talking. Unfortunately, like many health issues, waiting to resolve it or dragging it out can have unintended consequences down the line.

Luckily, the experienced dental staff at Hassey Dental can help you solve your TMJ problems. Whether they are caused by your dental health, overall health, stress or because of other long standing medical issues, TMJ can sneak up on you over time. Our team can help you control these symptoms and prevent future occurrences. 

Contact us today at Hassey Dental and make an appointment if you’re having TMJ or any other oral health issues.

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